Burundi has been busy stepping up its efforts to train more Plantwise plant doctors to meet the country’s need to help more smallholder farmers grow more and lose less to potentially devastating crop pests and diseases.
The East African country officially joined the global Plantwise programme since 2021 with major partners including the Burundi Institute of Agricultural Science (ISABU), the plant protection department (DPV, NPPO) and DGMAVAE of the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock of Burundi (MINEAGRIE).
Since then, the country has trained more than 100 plant doctors who are providing high-quality advice to farmers in around 50 plant clinics. They are particularly helping farmers by correctly diagnosing their plant health problems and recommending how to efficiently manage these more effectively.
The plant doctors of Burundi are usually local government agricultural extension workers who are key in reaching smallholder farmers with relevant agricultural information. This is vital in enabling farmers to grow more and lose less due to crop pests and diseases.
Farmers from other Plantwise countries have benefitted from an up to 30 percent increase in crop production. Our ambition is to have similar impact in Burundi.
Using tablet computers, the plant doctors can access the Plant Knowledge Bank, even offline, and communicate with other plant doctors. The tablets feature apps which generate prescriptions that are forwarded to farmers, and can be easily shared between farmers, extending the reach of the advice.
However, in order to achieve a change in Burundi`s crop production, many farmers need to be reached. This requires many more plant doctors. The MINEAGRIE, therefore, aims to build the capacity of at least 300 out of the 1,000 existing commune agricultural extensions workers as plant doctors within three years. For more details see the previous news story ‘Burundi prepares to join Plantwise.’
This, in turn, requires highly skilled and professional trainers who can train people to become plant doctors. CABI has so far trained 15 national trainers. These have been conducting the training of plant doctors since mid-2021. Despite their high professionalism, this is not enough in terms of the numbers required to fulfil the country’s demands.
Therefore, CABI master trainers, Dr Stefan Toepfer, Manfred Grossrieder and Bethel Terefe from CABI have, together with Burundian master trainers Dr Célestin Niyongere (ISABU), Eustache Cimpaye (DPV MINEAGRIAE), Dr Privat Ndayihanzamaso (ISABU), and Dr Deo Ndikumana (University of Burundi) trained another 20 trainers between 21 March and 1 April 2022.
Those trained originated from different stakeholders of the plant health system aimed at improving sustainability. They included people from the national agricultural research organisation ISABU, from the department of agricultural mobilisation DGMAVAE of MINEAGRIE, from the NPPO of the country, from training institutions such as INADES and universities, from provincial and local agricultural extension services (BPEAE) as well as from the private sector including seed producer organisation.
Those experts were trained in the pest diagnosis (Plantwise training module 1) as well as in effective, safe, economic, practical and available pest management options in addition to good advice to farmers (Plantwise training module 2).
Moreover, they learnt how to establish a regular, free-of-charge plant clinic at a place convenient to many farmers. Future trainers received (and learnt to provide) special trainings in the biological control of agricultural pests, in e-clinics and tablet use, as well as the importance of gender aspects when training plant doctors and delivering services to farmers.
Dr Celestin Niyongere, the Plantwise coordinator of Burundi stated that, “We believe Plantwise, with its focus on plant clinics, are a perfect approach in building the capacity of our plant health system stakeholders, particularly the agricultural extension service providers. We plan to train many more plant doctors on provincial, commune as well as colline level to improve the agriculture of our country. This is done in collaborative approach among all plant health system stakeholders.”
In conclusion, the full package of Plantwise trainings for building the capacities of future plant doctors has been provided and high-quality trainers assured.
We gratefully acknowledge the donors of Plantwise Burundi for their financial support: the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Burundi and NUFFIC.
Main image: A new set of Burundians have received their training of trainers course to enable the country to have more Plantwise plant doctors help farmers diagnose and better manage plant health problems affecting their crops and livelihoods (Photo: Mr Thaddée).
Since its launch in 2011, CABI’s Plantwise programme has been introduced to 34 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas. The aim was and is to increase food security and improve rural livelihoods by reducing crop losses. This is achieved by establishing sustainable networks of local plant clinics, run by trained plant doctors, where farmers receive practical plant health advice. Working in close partnership with in-country partners, Plantwise strengthened national plant health systems from within, enabling countries to provide farmers with the knowledge they need to lose less of what they grow.
Find out more about Plantwise: https://www.plantwise.org
Other relevant story
See also the story ‘Burundi prepares to join Plantwise.’
Plantwise related products from CABI
Crop Pest Diagnosis e-course: https://www.cabi.org/publishing-products/crop-pest-diagnosis/
Crop Pest Management e-course: https://www.cabi.org/publishing-products/crop-pest-management/
Download our new Plantwise ‘Plant Doctor’ game: https://www.cabi.org/news-article/download-our-new-plantwise-plant-doctor-game/